Amarinder urges PM for steps to ensure medical oxygen supplies for Punjab

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure adequate medical oxygen supplies for Punjab from other states.

Singh informed the Prime Minister that with no manufacturers of medical oxygen, the state was dependent largely on three big manufacturers for liquid oxygen.

These are at Baddi (HP), Dehradun (Uttarakhand) and Panipat (Haryana), but the Dehradun and Panipat plants are not supplying oxygen as per the state's demand, he said, adding that the Panipat plant can supply more oxygen if supply to Panipat Refinery is curtailed.

The Punjab government, on its part, was in talks with industry to convert industrial oxygen to medical oxygen, he said.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister chaired a high-level virtual meeting with Chief Ministers and Health Ministers of seven high burden the COVID-19 States/Union Territory to review COVID-19 response and management.

With experts suggesting of possible aggravation of COVID conditions due to stubble burning, the Chief Minister also reiterated his demand for financial aid by the Centre to farmers for defraying the cost on the management of paddy straw, according to a release by Punjab CMO.

He said it was imperative for the Government of India to step in with the Rs 100 per quintal compensation the state has been seeking for the farmers to manage the paddy straw.

The Chief Minister further urged him to direct the Chief Controllers of Explosives, Nagpur, to clear the license request for the establishment of a liquid medical oxygen plant at Government Medical College, Patiala, by HLL India Limited, under the PM Swasthya Suraksha Yojna (PMSSYSY).

The VC meet was also attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, besides chief ministers of six other states. These seven states -- Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab - currently contribute 62 per cent to the total cases in the country.

The Prime Minister, while promising to look into the Chief Minister's requests, suggested that the state government should strengthen its COVID awareness efforts by involving the civil society even more aggressively and making announcements from Gurdwaras and other religious places, read the release.

He expressed the confidence that Punjab would be able to reduce the positivity rate to less than five per cent and bring down the COVID Fatality Rate (CFR).

On the fiscal package, the Chief Minister said the Government of India has released Rs 131.22 crore from the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, and after submitting a Utilization Certificate (UC) for the whole amount, the state had requested the central government for the immediate release of Rs 200 crore, which is awaited.

He further pointed out that the Government of India was requested to reconsider the limit of 35 per cent expenditure for COVID relief under SDRF from the overall availability of the resource envelope, but the Centre is still continuing with 35 per cent limit on SDRF for COVID on yearly basis.

The Chief Minister also requested that installation of ventilators provided by the central government be completed by BEL at the earliest, while also pointing to complaints of their malfunctioning by both public and private healthcare institutions.

Singh said the last 3-4 weeks had seen a surge in cases, and, on average in the past week, around 2400-2500 cases and around 55-60 mortalities were reported daily.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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